Month: September 2021

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Authors in October with ReadMHK at MPL!

Celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Authors in October with ReadMHK at MPL!

By Jan Johnson, Programming and Outreach Librarian

ReadMHK is a new community-wide nine-month long reading program at Manhattan Public Library. With ReadMHK we wanted to bring the two things together that we love: reading and our community. When we read biographies, memoirs, and novels rather than history books, we can learn about other people and cultures which can lead to empathy and understanding. It’s easier to share empathy with others when you have read a story that opens up their humanity and soul, finding ways to relate to experiences in your own life. To immerse oneself in a book that opens a window into a world you aren’t familiar can leave you engaged, empathetic and educated.

The Soul of a Woman” by Isabel Allende, the accomplished writer from Chile, is a beautiful memoir that takes you on a journey of her loves, passions, aging and what led to her being a fierce supporter of social justice for women around the globe.  As a young girl watching her mother struggle with few choices, her strength and independence was instilled early on. Growing up in the 60’s, her fight for feminism grew as she fought to be taken seriously in a male dominated culture. This book reads like an intimate conversation with the author about her struggles, passions, and honest reflection of her life.

What would Frida do? A guide to living boldly” by Arianna Davis is a simple biography of the enigmatic artist Frida Kahlo’s life. The author weaves stories of Frida and how she overcame the many obstacles in her life with life lessons for us all to learn and grow. Frida’s brave spirit shines brightly throughout this book as we learn how the creative artist overcame heartbreak and physical limitations, to become an icon in the feminist movement as a woman who did not hide in her husband’s shadows, but became her own champion in the face of adversity.

If you’re looking for a thrilling, fantastical, mystery, horror read for the fall, look no further than “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This ticks all the boxes: historical, fantasy, horror, and gothic, with strong women of color as the protagonists, and with race, colonialism, and eugenics thrown in the well-crafted mix. Noemí Taboada is a young socialite in 1950’s Mexico. Restless and not eager to enter into marriage, she is sent by her father on an errand to find her missing cousin. Her travels take an unexpected, sometimes grisly (There is some gore), smartly crafted adventure.

Sabrina and Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a magnetic collection of stories that beautifully celebrates her character’s Latina indigenous heritage. Living in Denver, Colorado these women navigate the land and lives with caution, grace, and quiet force. This is a moving narrative of ceaseless feminine power and an exploration of the experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home, that we all share.

The co-founder of the Women’s March, Paola Mendoza makes her YA debut with “Sanctuary.” The year is 2032, in a near future America where undocumented 16-year-old Vali from Columbia and her brother avoid deportation in a world where everyone is chipped. Something goes wrong with her mother’s counterfeit chip and brings the Deportation Forces down on their town. Her mother is detained and she and her brother must make their escape to the sanctuary state of California.  Heartbreaking and beautifully written, this YA novel is one not to miss.

The First Rule of Punk” by Celia Pérez is a fantastic middle grade debut.  Malú, María Luisa O’Neill-Morales, (but don’t call her Maria Luisa please) is 12 years old and moving from Gainsville to Chicago with her mother. She is not excited about leaving her father and his record store behind. Malú loves music! She love punk rock music! She is equally less excited about living in Chicago and starting 7th grade at a new school. Malú struggles with being the perfect Mexican-American daughter to her mother while keeping her punk rock-loving roots alive. She doesn’t think she’ll ever fit in until she meets some misfits like herself, and they start their own punk rock band, even though not everyone is happy about that.

Please join us on October 19th at 7pm as Elsa Valarezo de Ireton, ESL Instructor at MATC, discusses some of her favorite Hispanic and Latinx authors and share some of your favorites as well. Register online at and to learn more about ReadMHK.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Give Genre Blending a Go

Give Genre Blending a Go

By Julie Mills, Learning & Information Services Supervisor

Do you ever get stuck in a genre? I do. It seems all I want to read is magical realism. But if I had stuck to only reading that one genre, I would have never tried what has now become my all-time favorite book series, the All Souls series by Deborah Harkness! I was so surprised to see that science fiction/fantasy genre sticker on the spine of “A Discovery of Witches”, but I am glad I did.  It opened my eyes to what my Reader’s Advisory professor taught so well, that we need to read other genres not only to better help our patrons, but also for ourselves. Even after reading about witches, vampires, and daemons who do magic and time travel, I still would not classify this as science fiction.

A popular series that you might not realize is a blend of several different genres is Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Set in Scotland, the author combines elements like romance and historical fiction with science fantasy. Following Claire Randall from 1945 to the eighteenth century allows for a lot of history to be woven in, and still gives fans of romance plenty to enjoy. A series such as this one will bring reader’s over from other genres which greatly enhances the field of literature. If you like the Outlander series but have already read them, you might enjoy “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. This time it is the husband who does the time traveling, and readers will be transported back and forth to other decades while Henry and Claire fight to hold onto their relationship as this happens. Many, including the author herself, have found it difficult put this book into one specific genre.  And much like my surprise at the label on “A Discovery of Witches”, Niffenegger states that she was hesitant to call it science fiction. It seems that if the author prefers to keep the labels at bay, then we should learn to choose our next read with the same open mind.

And even if those styles aren’t your favorites, there is a another, newer trend in genre blending that combines true crime with memoirs. Think about books like Michelle McNamara’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” where the aspect of the author’s real-life experience joined to the story adds a deeper dimension to what could be a lesser, sensational read that exploits the crime. “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” follows the case of the Golden State Killer that the author researched relentlessly right up to her untimely death. The details of the authors obsessive experiences are as interesting, if not more so, than the actual subject.

These examples have barely scratched the surface of what you may discover if you are willing to look outside the normal lines of your ideal story line. Another book that comes to mind is “Double Wide” by Leo Banks.  Technically classified as a western, I would have never picked this up had it not been for an assignment, and I would have missed out on a book I thoroughly enjoyed.  Ok so it also is in the mystery/crime/noir genres that I love, but I would have never touched a book with a western genre sticker on it before now. The main protagonist is washed-up baseball player Whip Stark who is thrown into solving a murder. Helping him is his band of misfits that live with him in the mobile home park he created in the Arizona desert.

These examples have barely scratched the surface of what you may discover if you are willing to look outside the normal lines of your ideal story line. Mixing it up with genre blends could be what the future of literature looks like.  A changing landscape that does not keep everything neat and tidy will help literature grow and also feed readers with big appetites for a steady supply of great reads.

Let us help you get unstuck from reading your same old genre with some recommendations in person at the Reference desk or by requesting an online personalized reading list from our website. You may be surprised at what new genres you like.

Email us at or call 785-776-4741 ext. 300 for other recommendations!

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Dungeon Master’s Guide to the Library

Dungeon Master’s Guide to the Library

by Stephanie Wallace, Library Assistant 2

Curled up on my futon with my tech and dice tin on a Tuesday evening, I readjust my headphones and laugh as my friends and I slay orcs within a hidden cave. We’re represented by tokens on a virtual map on my laptop screen, and I record the loss of HP – my hit points – on my tablet when my Tiefling is bludgeoned with a club. The night goes on, and eventually, we leave the cave victorious. We bid each other goodnight and turn off voice chat, only to continue texting each other about the adventure we’ll pick back up next week.

For anyone who has enjoyed playing Dungeons & Dragons or similar tabletop roleplaying games, the scene described is like a welcome home. For those who haven’t, you might be familiar with how it’s shown in TV shows – kids huddled around a table strewn about with maps, miniatures, and player sheets in a basement, rolling dice to determine the fates of their characters. No matter how you play or otherwise enjoy the world of D&D, or if you’re merely curious to learn more, there is plenty to discover. The Manhattan Public Library offers many resources to guide your journey, whether you are a fledgling adventurer or a seasoned explorer.

If you want to start your own campaign with your friends or family, check out the “Dungeon Master’s Guide” and the “Player’s Handbook” by Mike Mearls. These books give you all the tools you need to create characters, outline a story, fight monsters, and find treasure. Information about how to play D&D can also be found freely online, but many dungeon masters and players find it’s helpful to have physical copies of these guides.

What if you want to read about others’ adventures? Worry not! The library has an incredible selection of fantasy books for all ages. Many are set within the multiverse of D&D, and plenty others are about everyday people who have made lifelong friendships because of sitting around a table to play.

Teens and lovers of YA novels may particularly enjoy “Chaotic Good” by Whitney Gardner. Cameron is a costume designer looking for inspiration, but she winds up joining a local comic shop’s D&D group under a false identity. Fans of “Stranger Things” will be excited to read about the boys’ tabletop adventures in the beautifully illustrated graphic novel, “Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons” by Jody Houser.

Adults and those who enjoy nonfiction reads will appreciate “Of Dice and Men” by David M. Ewalt. He explains how D&D was inspired by the battlefields of ancient Europe, the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals, and its apotheosis as father of the modern video-game industry. “The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange” by Mark Barrowcliffe is about how he and twenty million other boys grew up in the ’70s and ’80s absorbed in the world of fantasy role-playing games.

To see the world itself, I recommend checking out “Art & Arcana” by Michael Witwer. It showcases an incredible collection of ephemera – illustrations from the original guidebooks, novels, and marketing materials – and provides a comprehensive history on the evolution of D&D. On Hoopla, available through our online resources, you can also find “Dungeons & Drawings: An Illustrated Compendium of Creatures” by Blanca Martínez de Rituerto & Joe Sparrow.

Little adventurers will enjoy reading a “Young Wizard’s Handbook: How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters” by A.R. Rotruck. Nerdy kids will relate to Sunny in “Sunny Rolls the Dice” by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, which is about a girl who has just begun middle school and isn’t sure how to relate to her new classmates. In “Dungeon Academy: No Humans Allowed!” by Madeleine Roux, readers can follow Zelli’s adventure as the only human living among monsters. For a fun role reversal of elves and other creatures pretending to be normal kids in their game, check out “Homerooms & Hall Passes” by Tom O’Donnell.

Families with elementary-aged kids will be excited to participate in “A Celebration of Dragons,” which will be on September 24 in the Auditorium at 2 p.m. We’ll talk about dragons, dragon books, and do some fun dragon activities and crafts. Registration and masks for ages 2 and up are required. For more information or to sign up, go to

Whether you play D&D or read about other adventurers’ quests, the library is here to aid your fantastic journeys.

by MHK Library staff MHK Library staff No Comments

Books for Teaching Our Children about 9/11

Books for Teaching Our Children about 9/11

by Crystal Hicks, Collections Librarian

I was in eighth grade when 9/11 happened. I remember my teacher abruptly switching the TV to live coverage of the Twin Towers, and it seemed like time stopped as we were all engrossed in the unfolding tragedy. Even as a teen in Kansas, I could tell 9/11 had a profound effect on America in so many ways: Americans united, Americans divided, terrorism emerged, Islamophobia increased, a war began, and the world felt less safe.

As a new parent, I find it unimaginable that my child could know nothing of 9/11 and its impact, and yet, she currently does. For her, September 11, 2001, is as distant as 1969 is for me (which I hear was a pivotal year, though it always seemed like ancient history). Fortunately, there are many books coming out that explain 9/11 and its ramifications for youth of all ages, which I can share with her as she gets older.

Books for the youngest readers soften the tragedy of 9/11 by focusing on the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree that survived the collapse of the towers and was replanted at the memorial in 2011. Sean Rubin’s “This Very Tree” follows the attacks and their aftermath from the perspective of the tree, first buried under rubble, then rehabilitated in the Bronx. “Branches of Hope,” written by Ann Magee and illustrated by Nicole Wong, pairs the tree’s story with that of a family whose daughter grows up to join the NYFD. Marcie Colleen’s “Survivor Tree,” illustrated by Aaron Becker, follows the tree through the seasons, emphasizing hope as the tree continues to grow despite its near-death experience. These books avoid graphic imagery, allowing adults to explain the attacks on their own, with the opportunity to provide as much or as little detail as their individual children can handle.

A number of books for older readers more explicitly depict the events of 9/11, providing multiple perspectives. Lauren Tarshis’s graphic novel “I Survived: The Attacks of September 11, 2001,” illustrated by Corey Egbert, goes to the heart of 9/11 and follows a firefighter’s son searching for his father amidst the chaos that followed the attacks. For a more comprehensive account of 9/11, read Don Brown’s “In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers,” which includes graphic illustrations of the attacks themselves, the long and hazardous rescue operations, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. Alan Gratz’s “Ground Zero” interweaves the story of a 9-year-old boy surviving the attack on the North Tower with the story of an Afghan girl on September 11, 2019, who saves the life of an American soldier, making her family a target for the Taliban. Finally, Alyssa Bermudez bases “Big Apple Diaries” on her own diaries of growing up in New York, so her graphic memoir accessibly blends the trauma of 9/11 with the ups and downs of everyday life.

Other recent books choose to focus on the long-reaching aftermath of 9/11 and can help explain the profound impact the attacks had on both the United States and Afghanistan. In “Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab,” by Priya Huq, Bangladeshi-American Nisrin is the victim of a hate crime for wearing a headscarf in 2002; because of the attack, Nisrin decides to learn more about Islam and wear hijab, against the wishes of her family. Coauthors Jawad Arash and Trent Reedy base “Enduring Freedom” on their own friendship, writing of a young American soldier who meets and befriends an Afghan teen in 2003. Tahereh Mafi’s “An Emotion of Great Delight” also takes place in 2003, centered on Iranian-American Shadi, who’s struggling under the weight of familial tragedy, an estranged best friend, and a potential romance, not to mention the constant Islamophobia she experiences at school. Leaving the realm of historical fiction, Saadia Faruqi’s “Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero” takes place in 2021, as twelve-year-old Yusuf learns about how 9/11 impacted his family at the time while also facing local opposition to building a mosque in his hometown.

I may not have to teach my child about 9/11 for several years, but it’s a comfort to know that these books, and others yet to be written, will be on hand to help explain such a pivotal event in American history.

by Maddy Ogle Maddy Ogle No Comments

New Library Director Hired



Media Contact: Madison Ogle, Head of Community Engagement
Phone: (785) 320-5376 | Email:


MANHATTAN, KS – The Manhattan Public Library Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Eric Norris has been named as its new MPL/NCKLS Library Director. He’ll succeed current Library Director, Linda Knupp, who will retire at the end of the year.

A native Kansan, Norris has extensive library experience and is currently the librarian for the State of Kansas and has worked there since April of 2018. Before that, he was the director at Hays Public Library for six years. Norris received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree from Fort Hays State University, and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to join the team at the Manhattan Public Library. Manhattan is a growing and dynamic community that knows the value of its public library and I look forward to meeting people, making connections, and helping to create opportunities for growth. It is an exciting time for libraries as we explore ways to advance educational, informational, and recreational services throughout the Manhattan and the NCKLS area,” Norris said.

To assist in conducting a director search, the Library Board of Trustees invited a number of library staff, board members, and library supporters to participate in the selection process.

“Through all the shutdowns, jarring changes, and social upheaval of the past year, I believe that libraries are evolving well beyond the idea as simply a place to gather, and that public libraries are in the perfect position to adapt and evolve into what ‘new realities’ lie ahead,” Norris added.

Norris will begin his duties in late December. Knupp will retire at the end of December after 20 years of service.

Manhattan Public Library is located at 629 Poyntz Avenue in Manhattan, Kansas, (785) 776-4741.


New Library Director, Eric Norris


Library Update

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